MIRROR – Reflective (and Creative) Learning at Work

Football Kick-off

[tweetmeme]Amidst the football madness, Neil Maiden and I journeyed to Saarbruecken in Germany for a different sort of kick-off, the project kick-off for MIRROR – an EU Framework 7 funded project.

“MIRROR is aiming to develop the first technology-enhanced learning approach that can be used in highly dynamic working situations and situative context, where no teachers, no formal content and no explicit knowledge are available. “

It seems the EU has recognised it’s tough out there at the moment, and that many forms of formal training can be time consuming and costly, especially in SMEs where sending staff on training can mean difficulties in finding cover for the work they will be missing. Wouldn’t it be great if they could learn while they are on the job? (Doesn’t sound radical yet does it? Be patient, please).

When we’re taught new things or have new experiences we learn from them by reflecting on what we’ve experienced or been taught. Reflection is key to the MIRROR approach and the project aims to support the approach with technologies that enhance and motivate both individual and collaborative reflective learning process.

The key part that interests us is that reflection is not limited to the retrospective element, on the contrary there is an intimate connection between reflection and creativity. How? When we reflect on past events and experiences we train our capability for critical thinking and arrive at new insights or new perspectives from which to view a problem.

Our goals (here at City) in the project is to:

  • Understand opportunities for and barriers to reflective learning during creative problem solving
  • Develop creative problem solving strategies that have the potential to support reflective learning
  • Integrate model of reflective learning behaviour and outcomes with existing models creative problem solving
  • Develop software-based tools that support reflective learning during creative problem solving

We will be working closely with (among others) some UK based care homes, looking at how the MIRROR approach and technologies can support care home staff working with people who have dementia.

Where will it take us? We’ll keep you posted.

Author: Kristine Pitts

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Who is Creative?

Childhood tools of creativity[tweetmeme]Yesterday I watched a motivational speech by Gregg Fraley on TEDx. He said that if you want to be creative you’ve got to stop comparing yourself to others. You may not be Einstein, or Picasso, why would you be? We are all creative in our own right, and in our own way. We need to “throw away the yard stick of comparison and have fun, obtain flow and allow yourself to express yourself”.

I encounter this in workshops all the time, and even in casual conversations when I mention that I facilitate creativity, people are quick to say “I’m not really creative.” or worse, total denial: “I’m not creative.” At least if they say “really”, there is the chance they are being modest. If you firmly believe you are not creative, you probably wont be.

Creativity is often thought of as the gift of the few. Whether they say Richard Branson, James Cameron, Lady Gaga, Salvador Dali or Albert Einstein, – when asked who is creative, people often list the people they see as “lone geniuses” or people who are very successful at what they do.  I, and many others, argue that you don’t need to be a genius to be creative. Everybody is creative. And the lone genius is a myth.

Children are creative. They dare to try new things, are not afraid of being wrong and have yet to form barriers of their own to why something will or will not work. Picasso is quoted as saying “all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist once we grow up”. I’d like to add that often the trick is to find what you’re good at and/or what you really enjoy. If you don’t like painting, you can learn the skill, but you will never be a master at it.

Creativity is a skill, it can be learned like other skills. Though I will admit some people seem to be more naturally adept at it, we can all learn to use it to our advantage. Creative ideas come from knowledge. We exploit knowledge available to us from diverse sources. Creative thinkers search for new ideas by manipulating available knowledge and experience. There are several influencing factors, like situations, cultures, processes and methods. Creativity is both a mental, and a social process.

Now if you think about the successful individuals I mentioned above, what do they all have in common? As Paul Sloane puts it: “All successful people have enormous self-belief. They know that they have something special to contribute and they are determined to make their mark.” We could all do with that kind of self-belief. Actually, a lack of self belief is at the root of the statement I often face in workshops of “I’m not creative”. I know the person saying it is capable of coming up with creative ideas, but he or she doesn’t believe that themselves yet. Maybe she doesn’t think her ideas would be worth saying out loud. Maybe he is afraid of saying something stupid. Well guess what, when it comes to creativity, the only stupid idea is the idea that your idea might be stupid. Because:

If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.” – Sir Ken Robinson.

Author: Kristine Pitts